Cardiopulmonary Exercise Testing

Cardiopulmonary exercise testing for heart and lung function

Cardiopulmonary exercise testing, also called stress testing, lets your doctor see how well your heart and lungs work. You may need a cardiopulmonary stress test to see why you’re having trouble breathing or if your doctor suspects you may have a heart problem like heart disease or heart failure. This hour-long test will help doctors identify if you have a heart or lung condition.

Before your cardiopulmonary exercise test

Before your exercise test, a technician will attach electrodes (small, sticky metal patches) to your chest. Electrodes monitor your heart’s electrical activity. You’ll also wear a cuff to monitor your blood pressure. During your test, you’ll breathe into a tube. This part of the test will let the doctor see how well your body uses oxygen during exercise.

During your cardiopulmonary exercise test

Throughout the test, you’ll walk on a treadmill or ride an exercise bike. The test will start at a slow speed, and the speed will get faster and faster as the test goes on. The test will stop when you can’t exercise anymore or if the technician gets enough information for the doctor to make a diagnosis.

After your exercise test

After you’ve finished exercising, the technician will keep monitoring you for another 10 to 20 minutes. The technician will then remove all the electrodes from your body.

A cardiologist will review all your test information and send the results to the doctor who ordered your test. The doctor who ordered your test will talk to you about your results.